Short Story Family – Broken Things
The world won’t end before I do. I can rest- assured, comforted- I’ll end knowing I left behind a legacy. She’s different- she knows otherwise. Her tattered bits of legacy, her scorned existence- she knows the world will end before her. I write, she buys the paper. My pen stops, the ink blots-sometimes words are scarce. Some she buys. These she burns- the abominable bits of paper that refused to bend under the weight of my superiority.
Words are rebellious, sometimes. Sometimes, they obey. Words are whimsical, the ink runs out sometimes. I’m trying hard- she doesn’t understand that. She couldn’t really do anything even if she tried. I skip lunch sometimes; even dinner- It’s a tough gig, my job. Dedication, intelligence- I can’t do without anything. She skips lunch; sometimes even dinner- I wonder why? She doesn’t have it as tough as I do. Does she?
“Natasha”, Ishita calls out. “Here, I have some work. Run down and get me an A4 size spiral-bound from Reddy’s will you?”
Natasha sits in the next room where the sunlight filters through a veiled window- she loves the sun but she’s a subtle lover. Her eyes are fixed intently on the glass bead that had fallen from her earring last night. She keeps things, she couldn’t throw things away. After five minutes of pressing silence from Natasha, Ishita gets up and walks into her room. There’s a scream- Ishita forgot to knock. How could she? Natasha is hysterical. On a normal day, Ishita would apologize. This is not a normal day; right now she’s tired.
“Stop that.” She snatches the glass bead from Natasha’s hand, “I told you to throw that thing away. Why do you keep holding on to broken things?”
The hysterics die down. She looks up with blank eyes- Ishita’s angry. Natasha smiles and holds out her hand, she’ll take the money. She’ll get the paper. That’s all she can do, right?
Natasha’s running down the stairs- the paper might fly, the words might disappear. Ishita said so.
She said- “Come back soon, alright. Don’t wander off. Last time I forgot everything I was gonna write because you stopped to feed that stupid dog. Don’t do something like that again.” Then she’d added under her breath- “Please.” Natasha was gone by then. She was running.
Ishita sat down on the floor where Natasha had been sitting. Before her, the sunlight falls in disjointed patterns. What does Natasha see? She thinks- for a second. Only for a second. Resting her back against the bed behind her, she lets her head fall on it- softly. She forms the words in her mind- the words that will mark the new pages that Natasha brings. Like the words that marked Natasha- that marred her, 3 years ago. Similar, so different still. Three years ago.
“Stop following me everywhere! Why can’t you just be with your own friends? Stop butting into my life.”
“But I like you and your friends. Mom said it’s ok if you didn’t mind.”
“I do mind Natasha. I mind a lot. It’s uncomfortable for everyone.”
“But your friends said it was fine if I hung out with them.”
“That’s only because they think they should be polite to my little sister. But you’re not little, ok? Stop imposing on everyone.”
“Goddammit. Never-mind, do what you like!”
Ishita puts a hand over her eyes- they were tired. Would she have turned back time to undo things if she could? Would she? Wouldn’t she?
“Roy, do me a favour, yes?”
“What is it?”
“Look, I know you guys are being nice about Natasha hanging out with us, but really…”
“It’s a little weird, but it’s not like we can…”
“Oh we can. Gang up on her okay? I’m not asking you to hit her or anything, but just, tell her something, like you’re bad guys. That we do drugs and that she should stay away. That’ll shoo her off.”
“No harm trying.”
No harm trying. If she says “haha” right now, Ishita wonders if it would all sound like a big joke. It wasn’t supposed to be anything else. They told Natasha they were bad guys. They showed her drugs, they made it real- they had to sell it right? No harm trying. She took the drugs they shoved on her- she was supposed to get scared wasn’t she? Tough kid, that one. She took them- they thought she’d back down. She took them to her room, all the way to her system. She went back. She told them-now I’m like you. Ishita laughed. They thought it was a joke- it was a joke. Not the one they had hoped for, but still…joke all the same. From one bad hash to another- Natasha became “like them.” They didn’t know. She didn’t know. Someone else did- some supplier. One shady joint to another- one abyss to another- different kind, all the same.
They found out later- Ishita, parents, teachers, the world. Natasha found out too- but she had already crossed over to another world. She was already broken. A joke gone wrong, Ishita wonders if she can say that. Natasha gone wrong, that’s what everyone knew. Ishita moves- she can hear the door open. She gets rid of the thoughts that threaten to scare away her words.
“Did you get it?”
Natasha nods. She smiles. “Here.” She holds out a notebook. She holds out her heart. Ishita takes the notebook and leaves.
It’s night. Ishita puts down her pen and sighs. It’s done. Natasha’s sitting behind her on the floor. “Is it done?” – A faint voice, fading from lack of use. “Yes, it is.” “You put me in it right? I’m in it?”
“Yes. I did. You’re in it.”
Natasha smiles again- she’s done that a lot today. “Good. It will get published right? People will read it right?”
Ishita sighs. She’s tired, she needs sleep. “Yes Natasha, they’ll print it.”
Ishita get up and leaves for her room. Natasha gets up and leaves. Ishita to the bed, Natasha to the roof. She wants to see the moon. The glass bead is still in her hands, she circles it with her fingers.
Why do you keep holding on to broken things? Natasha wonders why.
The bead slips from her hand, she slips from the parapet. She hits the ground. She let the bead go, but it follows her. Gravity is a funny thing.
The broken things are gone.
The world won’t end before I do. I can rest- assured, comforted- I’ll end knowing I left behind a legacy. She’s different- she knows otherwise. Her tattered bits of legacy, her scorned existence- she knows the world will end before her. Her world is different from mine. She doesn’t have it as tough as I do. Does she?